Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Should Repentant Senator Be Off the Hook with the Law?

Senator David Vitter says that both God and his wife have forgiven him for apparently consorting with members of an alleged DC-area prostitution ring.

Should that end any responsibility or criminal culpability he may have in the matter? The senator evidently thinks that it should.

Ann Althouse poses some interesting questions about why the alleged prostitute has been charged, while one of her self-admitted customers seems to have a well-founded hope that his public statement of contrition will shield him from criminal charges.

Althouse also suggests that Vitter's seemingly noble gesture actually damns the alleged Washington madam before her lawyers have even been able to put on a defense.

Good points. I commented from a Christian perspective:
The last I checked, paying a prostitute is a criminal act.

The senator may well be forgiven by God and his wife. But I point to the Biblical example of King David who, though forgiven for murder and adultery, nonetheless had to deal with grim consequences for his actions.

More recently, I think of Mehmet Ali Agca, the would-be assassin of Pope John Paul II. Some months after he'd recovered from the near-fatal assault, the Pope visited Agca in prison. There, he forgave the apparently repentant gunman. But that didn't mean that the Pope was obliged to secure Agca's release. In fact, Agca finished serving his sentence.

Only cheap versions of the Biblical concept of grace suggest that once forgiven, there shouldn't be punishments for crimes.

It's deeply disturbing that the alleged operator of a prostitution ring has been charged with a crime, while so far anyway, one of her alleged high profile customers thinks he can go scott-free by claiming he's repentant and forgiven.

As a pastor I say, "That's great! Now, let's press charges."
Regular readers of Better Living know that I've discussed forgiveness vs. civil accountability, using the examples of both King David and Mehmet Ali Agca, before. Here are links to previous posts in which one or both have figured:
London Bombings: Forgiveness?
How Can the Amish Forgive?
More on Imus: What About Forgiveness?


P_J said...

"Should Repentant Senator Be Off the Hook with the Law?"


Mark Daniels said...

My sentiments precisely.


P_J said...

You may remember the story of Karla Faye Tucker, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. While in prison, she became a born-again Christian and asked then-Governor Bush for a commutation of her sentence. He denied her request.

Regardless of what one thinks of capital punishment, I found it odd that Christian leaders (Pat Robertson, notably) appealed for clemency on the basis of her having become a Christian.